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Fri, Jul 12, 2019

Airline Unions Support Bill To End Flag Of Convenience Air Carrier Schemes

SWAPA, APA, APFA All Applaud The Bipartisan Bill

Unions at Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have come out strongly in support of H.R. 3632, the Fair and Open Skies Act, which its authors say will prevent Flag of Convenience (FOC) air carriers from flying to the United States.

The bill was introduced this week by House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (D-WA), Aviation Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Sharice Davids (D-KS), Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA).

SWAPA said in a statement that, just as similar flag of convenience operators "destroyed" the U.S. shipping industry decades ago, FOC air carriers will decimate the U.S. aviation industry. The atypical employment model often employed by FOC air carriers poses a serious threat to aviation safety as well as the traveling public.

“Flight crews who work with no direct line of communication to airline management often lack the ability to highlight potential safety or operational issues. Clear and open communication between frontline operators and airline management is critical to running a safe and efficient airline,” said SWAPA president Captain Jon Weaks.

SWAPA says it sincerely appreciates the leadership of Chairman DeFazio, as well as the bipartisan efforts of all of the original co-sponsors, to ensure a level playing field for all U.S. carriers in the international air travel industry, where too often the rules are skewed against the U.S. SWAPA applauds the effort to uphold the labor standards that our pilots, along with the entire U.S. aviation labor community, have spent decades building. These hard-fought-for standards are the foundation that have made the U.S. into the pinnacle of aviation safety and should never be for sale.

"Flags of convenience threaten the career prospects of pilots, flight attendants, and other employees across the airline industry, and that employment insecurity in turn threatens passenger safety," said Capt. Eric Ferguson, president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents some 15,000 pilots at American Airlines. "Because they don't directly employ their pilots but instead use third-party staffing agencies, flag of convenience airlines never develop a proper safety culture, since their pilots too often fear retribution for voicing safety-related concerns."

“The Association of Professional Flight Attendants thanks Chairman DeFazio for introducing the Fair and Open Skies Act, a critical piece of legislation that would protect airline safety and uphold crucial labor standards," said Lori Bassani, National President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. "We stand with our union brothers and sisters in advocating for this bill which would prohibit flag of convenience carriers from skirting labor and safety regulations that are meant to keep passengers and crew safe.” The Association of Professional Flight Attendants represents the 28,000 Flight Attendants at American Airlines.

"Flag of convenience airlines threaten safety, drive down salaries, and worsen the passenger experience,” said John Samuelsen, International president of the Transport Workers Union. “These airlines are yet another attack on airline workers by greedy airline bosses who care more about profits than they do about safety, fairness or common decency.“

"Flags of convenience have devastated working conditions in the maritime industry," said Sito Pantoja, General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "We must do all we can to prevent these schemes, which are designed to avoid taxes, abuse lax safety standards and exploit poor labor regulations, from infecting our airline industry. The IAM thanks Rep. DeFazio for his leadership role in this fight."

Rep. DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a similar bill two years ago that garnered 137 co-sponsors. The language of that bill was eventually included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which the House overwhelmingly passed. However, the language was struck from the final draft during negotiations with the Senate.

(Source: News releases)



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